Reel Critics: 'Cowboys & Aliens' mesh better than you think

"Cowboys & Aliens" go together like chocolate and pinot noir. It may sound strange until you try it. And then you love it.

This is a mix of all that is holy about our favorite Western and sci-fi movies. It succeeds on the strength of a cast with humor as dry as the dust on their boots.

Daniel Craig is perfect as the Lone Cowboy With No Name (at first) who has this mysterious metal cuff. He shows no concern that there's a price on his head, placed there by enjoyably crusty rancher Harrison Ford. There's also a pretty, strange young woman (Olivia Wilde) who has taken an unusual interest in our cowboy and his magic bracelet.

Just as we're getting to the big gunfight, bright lights fill the New Mexico sky — what the hay? Before we can say "Area 51," giant metal dragonflies are dropping fireballs and wreaking havoc on good guys and bad guys alike.

Just like our Congress, everybody finally realizes they need to overlook their differences in order to stave off a calamity of enormous proportions.

Cowboys, Indians, bank robbers, kids, dogs — all come together to kill off what appears to be kinfolk of the critters from Ridley Scott's classic "Alien."

And finally, ladies, we have James Bond in chaps. Yee-haw!


Not 'Crazy' or 'Stupid' to like this film

"Crazy, Stupid, Love" successfully deals with real issues in modern relationships. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore play a middle-aged married couple who split up when she begins an affair. He tries to reenter the dating scene he left decades ago. He follows the cynical advice of a buff younger man played with high style by Ryan Gosling.

Many comic situations arise from this premise of an older guy trying so hard to be cool with women. But the plot also follows other romantic entanglements involving several of their friends and relatives. Good chemistry between all the players keeps the story interesting.

Marisa Tomei storms into the story as a hot one-night stand for the newly separated husband. But a vibrant Emma Stone takes over the screen as a smart and sexy foil to Gosling's character.

There's a measure of contrived silliness that keeps this otherwise good effort from being all it could be. But the complex plot is amusing, entertaining and a cut above the norm for this genre.

SUSANNE PEREZ is a Costa Mesa resident and executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

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